Pres. Weah, You Have Much More to Pursue than Citizenship for non-Negroes

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President George Weah’s State of the Nation Address last Monday calling for citizenship and land rights to be granted people of non-Negro descent has sparked dissenting views from many quarters, even among those who are so loyal to him.

A lot of social media comments and those published in newspapers, including the Daily Observer, take serious exception to the President’s advocacy to grant citizenship and the sale of land to people of non-Negro descent.

As reported by our Editor, Omari Jackson, in our Wednesday edition, Jacob Y. Willie said, “I don’t agree with President Weah on that one and my reason is that because people of non-Negro descent traditionally have money, there will be too much disadvantage over Liberians.”

Like Willie, many other views suggest that granting citizenship to non-Negroes will be too much of a disadvantage to the poverty-stricken Liberians because those of non-Negro descent in Liberia already have complete control over the Liberian economy and have the potential to purchase as much land as possible, meaning the whole country.

This, according to the comments, has the propensity to deny the ordinary poor Liberians of farmland, thus leading them to deeper poverty and depression.

There are instances to back the comments about granting citizenship and land rights to people of non-Negro descent.

In Zimbabwe, the land crisis between Zimbabweans and the white people has been a serious problem in that southern African country. This land conflict led to the abrupt confiscation of white-owned land and the adoption of a new law to lease land to the whites, rather than allow them to own it. The white people of Zimbabwe expropriated huge portions of the choicest farmland and occupied it, to the disadvantage of the poor Zimbabweans.

We also read that under colonialism and apartheid in South Africa, the white minority claimed the largest share of land, absolutely depriving the black African majority of any good land, thereby setting the revolutionary agenda for reclamation.

Liberia does not have a history of colonial conquest of land, except that both the British and French imperialists seized huge tracts of Liberian territory on the east, north, west, and southwest parts of the country.

However, the evidence exists that land crisis among Liberians remains a very critical threat to reconciliation and unity after the civil crisis. We recall the many land conflicts that sprang up in 2011, precipitating violent clashes in many parts of the country.

We also recall how people of Grand Kru and Sinoe counties went on the rampage against Golden Veroleum (GV) for occupying huge tracts of their land for GV’s oil palm plantation.

What do you think would happen, Mr. President, when the financially potent non-Negros are given citizenship and right to land ownership and they purchase most of the land across the country, including all the beaches?

There had been some past instances of infringement on the right of Liberians by some people of the very non-Negro descent under discussion.

We remember the Mamba Point Hotel incident, where a Liberian’s tooth was broken by a Lebanese and the perpetrator was quickly sent back to Lebanon to prevent him from bearing the penalty of his action. We also remember how Liberian girls were transported to Lebanon under the pretext of lucrative jobs to improve their lives, but in the end those girls were turned into sex slaves!

Let us also recall the plight of our black African brothers in North Africa, particularly in Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya. Those are people who, because of their lighter color, disdainfully despise black Africans from the sub-Saharan belt.

In recent days there have emerged reports about inhumane treatment perpetrated by Libyans and Algerians against black Africans that ended up in those countries in a hapless bid to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe seeking greener pastures. Does this most brutal and inhumane treatment of our brothers and sisters from sub Sahara Africa by Africans of a lighter color warrant the granting of citizenship and land rights to such people?

But here is the case. In one of your pillars outlined during your State of the Nation Address, you spoke of giving power to the people. Power as we understand it in this context means decision of the people to control their economy and drive their development agenda. It means giving the younger generation the requisite education so that they will make better decisions about their wellbeing and their future and the future of their country, Liberia.

Power to the people would also mean making the justice system effective so that the rule of law will be the hallmark to guide the rights of the citizens.

As public sentiments can show, a lot of the young people and older folks love and admire you so much, Mr. President. We know your speech was accompanied by deafening applauses, giving the impression that they were in agreement.

But comments emerging now about your willingness, “your most urgent priority,” as you said, to grant  citizenship and land rights to people of non-Negro descent clearly signals a disconnect between you and your tens of thousands of supporters. At this infant stage of your administration, we submit that you cannot afford that.

There are far more urgent and serious matters afflicting the Liberian masses, which not only require, but DEMAND your immediate and urgent attention, especially as you come into office succeeding a previous administration that neglected so many of these urgent and serious matters.

We beg you to deal with these first, President Weah. Liberians have been suffering long enough.

Authors

18 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks so much to the administrator/writer of this article. You eloquently articulated the will of the majority Liberians. I totally applaud you and please keep up the great job. Certainly, there are more urgent needs of the Liberian people than land rights to non-negroes.

    Mr. President, your administration inherited a broke Nation according to your own public pronouncement and so, the expectation of the Liberian people is that your administration will conduct a forensic audit of the previous administration, along with implementing the hundreds of audit reports of massive institutionalized corruption collecting dust at your office, to recover Liberia’s stolen wealth as the first priority.

    It’s disappointing and an affront to the suffering and disadvantaged Liberians who elected you to be talking about given more rights to those who already controlled the economic of this Nation to the detriment of the masses. Overall, I applaud you for your stand on dual-citizenship for diaspora Liberians, the need for reconciling our people and the proposed road projects. Let’s focus on those priorities and leave the issue of citizenship and land rights for non-negroes.

  2. Tony,
    You guys are right. There are other pressing issues that deserve to be front and center. I see chronic unemployment as an example of an issue that demands quick attention. But, guess what? The president’s wife is an American citizen. The problem stems from the Liberian legislators. If the legislators are unwilling to confirm Weah’s appointees because of their dual citizenship background, Weah will be forced to do something. That’s why he’s doing what he does. I do not blame the him.

    The citizens of the Ivory Coast have a first lady who happens to be white. The fact that she is a white lady is not a big deal at all in that country. It shouldn’t be. Although Mrs. Weah is an American, I think she must be positively received by the Liberian people. It starts from the legislators!

    Dual citizens must be accorded what I call “a constitutional accomodation”. What that means is this. If a dual citizen returns to Liberia to work in the government, she or he must be confirmed for a period of 6 years. After 6 years, if the dual citizen has not renounced his or her dual citizenship status, the dual citizen should not be allowed to serve in the government.

    Dual citizens and green card holders have helped and are continuing to help in stabilizing the Liberian economy through their remittances via Western Union, Money Gram and other money transfer networks. Some dual citizens have a mortgage to pay, kids to educate and maybe some debts to settle in the US and elsewhere. It should be understood by the legislators that if a dual citizen returns to Liberia to work, patriotism is involved. In other words, a dual citizen who has helped in stabilizing Liberia’s economic outlook, should not be denied an opportunity to serve in Liberia.

    Many things need to be done by the Weah-Taylor team. One of the things that needs to be settled is the issue of Liberians who are dual citizens. Ironically, the dual citizenship issue cannot be resolved without settling the non-black citizenship issue. These things are intertwined. One thing cannot be settled without something else coming in.

    Yes, the country is broke. Roads are needed. Jobs need to be created. Liberians must sent abroad to study medicine, economics, math, chemistry, etc. More things need to be done.

  3. An anonymous philosopher once said, “The individual activity of one man with backbone will do more than a thousand men with a mere wishbone.”

    Mr. President, it takes a leader with backbone to bring difficult constitutional issues (dual-citizenship, land ownership and granting citizenship to people of Non-Negro Descent) to the forefront of Liberia’s debate on development.

    Here are some impediments to Liberia’s Development:

    Endemic corruption; dictatorial leadership; antiquated Constitution; racist law; lack of social programs; high illiteracy rate; lack of technical and medical colleges; high teen pregnancies; lack of incentives for farmers; high unemployment rate; lack of small business loans; lack of skilled man power; lack of professional executives; lack of electricity and running water; lack of modern infrastructure…..and just to name a few have long been impediments to Liberia’s economic development.

    Liberia wants business people and highly skilled foreigners of different race to invest their hard-earned money and talent in Liberia, but we have refused to offer them Liberian citizenship even conditionally. Also, our Liberian brothers and sisters living in the Diaspora are denied dual-citizenship.

    Such xenophobic and protectionist ideologies have deprived Liberia from creating a competitive free market economy. A competitive free market economy is good for attracting foreign businesses; good for encouraging Liberian owned businesses; good for attracting the bright and brightest to work in Liberia; and hopefully they can eventually become Liberian citizens.

    Liberia lost too many talented non-blacks born in Liberia during Liberia’s economic boom years of the 60s and 70s. These non-blacks born here are not considered Liberian citizens. However, they are now providing their skills abroad.

    Leadership is about making hard choices. Liberia cannot continue to expect rapid development when most of its citizens are highly illiterate; when most of its citizens live on a dollar a day, when Liberian lawmakers are paid salaries nearly what lawmakers in advance countries like the United States are making.

    Mr. President, many Liberians want you to sweep these thorny issues (dual citizenship, granting citizenship and land ownership to people of Non-Negro Descent) under the rug. No matter who is the leader of Liberia, these issues have to be dealt with if we want Liberia to be on par with other rapidly developing counties.

    Mr. President, you can prioritize these issues: begin with dual-citizenship for Liberians in Diaspora. Next: give 10 years conditional Liberian citizenship to only highly skilled Non-Negroes (doctors, professors, agronomist, engineers, scientists, high tech. specialists, etc.) and Non-Negroes married to Liberian citizens (all renewable under certain conditions).

    Lastly: Naturalized Non-Negroes are restricted to lease land only from Liberians. This will create room for rapid development and still leave room under the law for Liberians only to own land.

    This is not a broad sweep of Liberia’s citizenship law. It is selective citizenship: to bring into Liberia the best foreigners who can contribute to Liberia’s development.

    Remember, Liberia gives citizenship to black people (rich and poor) from all over the world. They too can take away land, businesses, and jobs from Natural born Liberians once they become citizens of Liberia.
    To move Liberia forward, we have to deal with all these difficult issues listed above according to priorities that have kept our people in perpetual backwardness.

    Please use all the legal and professional advice available because the Liberian people, the international community, and the free press are watching your CDC led government like a hawk.

    May God guide you and your team as you steer this old sinking ship (Liberia) back to its rightful place among the comity of prosperous nations.

    • Let the Liberian people have their sayings in this matter. Just as we elected a President by popular votes, “We The People” have the right to VOTE on this issue of land ownership by none whites. By the way, how many Liberians own lands and shops in India and Lebanon? How many Liberians are Indian or Lebanese citizens? Yes Indeed! President Weah have more important issues. Granting “Land Ownership” to none negro- whites is not one of those ISSUES.

  4. Where are all the competent and able CDCians that propped up Ambassador Weah when he lost the 2005 presidential elections? Where are the stalwarts of CDC who craftily guided him and helped him back to political prominence through those tough and dark days of the party? I do not want to call names, but If making non-Negroes citizens of Liberia is the “most urgent priority” of President Weah, where is the CDC Platform on which he ran during the 2017 presidential campaign? Where have we gone wrong? As a staunch and die-hard supporter of Ambassador Weah’s way back when and even now, we have known the central core of the party’s platform to have always been building a strong middle class in Liberia, turning around the sluggish economy, by rebuilding the institutions of Liberia: A competitive Healthcare Delivery System throughout the country; bringing Liberia into the 21st century by upgrading our educational system from day care/kindergarten through graduate school and research institutions; instituting a vibrant and viable Liberian Government with good governance that is impeccable and avails its services to the people of Liberia in all corners of the nation; Building the infrastructure of the nation with a network of 21st century roads/highways with the accompanying bridges throughout the entire nation; suitable airports and airfields; Seaports and durable railroad system to serve the people of Liberia. These are and always have been the most urgent and compelling platform agendas of the CDC Party!

    Mr. President, you know your most trustworthy CDCians who helped to bring the party so far. Lets go back to the drawing board and bring in the people that truly love you and will help you chart the course as your nascent administration is about to leave the dock and set sail! We who have been there with you know what we are talking about and you know that. We know, Mr. President, that you have some of the best brains that Liberia can produce, that have always been with you, where are they?!

  5. Mr. President, As a Liberian, the first couple of issues that come to mind are: Am I saved, where will I get my next meal from, how will I get that meal. Do I have roof over my head, if not, how will I and how will I keep roof over my head. I will get sick. And when I do, where do I go for treatment. How do I get to go where I want to go freely. I might be married with wife and children, how do I keep my family safe and happy. How do I educate my family. What school can I sent my children to and how will I be able to afford it. I want to contribute to my community and society, how can I do that. I’ve live under this “who know you” business too long. When will it come to who am I and how can I do to help without others saying that I am taking their job. Just my two cents. Thanks for the time. Good luck Mr. President and God bless.

    • ToP (The opinionated Patriot)
      Saadai,
      you better wake up quickly, if you want to see change within your given life time. And, if you are a Christian, than you should know the saying: God helps those who can help themselves.
      Also…why do you wish the President luck? He had made up his mind quite some time ago regarding how he can best benefit from his position once elected. He made that clear in his first address to the nation.
      The harsh reality is this: only you can improve your living conditions. No (White men’s) God or any Government will ever do that for you.

  6. Thank you, Thank you for this article.

    Mr. Weah has stated and shown who is allegiance is to and it’s not the Liberian ppl. Pres. Weah allegiance is to the Chinese and Lebanese. Shame on him.

    Also, his 25% salary reduction is smokes and mirror. He is getting bribes and kickbacks from the Chinese and Lebanese to change the constitution.

    I hope and pray Liberians are able to stop him from setting Liberia backward.

  7. Reading Alpha Conneh comments left me thinking that there are indeed many liberians with brain.Mr. president listen to some of what he said and implement it for the sake of the country.

  8. your yelling about Trump but doing the same thing. Trump should send all if you back to Liberia. Every one. No difference between you and Trump. Ship all of you home.

  9. I took this from Facebook. Jackie Sayegh So what caused the child from the ‘remote and impoverished village” to be unsuccessful? No roads, no electricity, no books, no water. ” In Nimba, the percentage of primary schools without access to water is 49%, without toilet facilities – 34%, and without electricity – 97%. In Lofa, the percentage of primary schools with no access to water is 60%, no access to toilet facilities -25% and no electricity, 97%. The percentage of primary schools without a library in Nimba is 92.6% and in Lofa 90.5%. (Liberia Education Statistics). – The National Legislature budget of 2013/2014 transportation reimbursement as $1,104,900 and then “other specialized materials and services” which accounts for $ 1,366,113. The “special allowance” for the National Legislature is a pork filled barrel of unspecified goodies. Under the term “special allowance” we have $3,204,000 allotted and let us not forget their foreign travel which has as its budget $308,758 along with the foreign travel incidental allowance of $372,679 which should not be mistaken with foreign travel daily subsistence allowance of $595,164. That amount is more than the allotment for the basic salaries of educators at the Zorzor Rural Teacher Training Institute -$200,000 or the allotment to Bong Community College – $219, 767. It is more than the MCSS gets “to renovate all MCSS Schools and computer systems from 2012-2015 ($250,000) (Liberia National Budget 2013/2014). ” — so tell me again why our people are suffering.

  10. How many Africans/Liberians are citizens of India and Lebanon? ‘just wondering… By the way, are there any Liberian shop owners in India and Lebanon? The inquiring MINDS want to know. Yes Indeed! President Weah have more important issues; at the very start of his Administration.

  11. ToP(The Opinionated Patriot)

    Fellow Liberians,
    I had expected a shit storm after President Weah gave his first address to the nation. And I am disappointed to say the least—because nothing even remotely happened. Yes, articles by journalists and comments by concerned citizens made some waves—but not in the way they should have.

    However, what worries me even more than the fact that our newly elected President finally articulated his true intentions and allegiance whom he really will be serving, is the fact that:

    nobody, neither professional journalists nor concerned citizens/commentators, intepreted and named President Weah’s statements for what they really are. So, I am asking myself—why still all this HONEY MOUTHING, after our newly elected President uttered these despicable words in his embarrassingly bumpy English.

    Wake up guys and let’s face it—in the moment President Weah proposed the notion that the constitution should be changed with respect to citizenship and property ownership, HE VERBALLY COMMITTED TREASON. That’s exactly what it is—TREASON. By doing so, he also called upon lawmakers and citizens to follow him and do the same—betray their country in the worst possible way. Obviously, the Liberian people and lawmakers should not allow to turn these treacherous notions into a referendum.

    Here’s another fact: English is the official language of our country. President Weah had more than twelve years to prepare himself for this moment. Why is his English still so clumsy?

    People!! We are talking about the highest office in the country. What does it tell about ourselves, if our President can’t eloquently express himself in the official language of the country he pretends to serve?

    The ugly truth is this—voting a man into highest office, who didn’t care to advance at least his language skills to a professional level, says everything about ourselves.

    Now, here’s what I suggest with respect to English as the official language—and that’s meant to be sarcastic! Abandon English as the nation’s official language! After all it’s the language of our colonial masters. Right—if we would ever consider to do so, we would face the obvious—too many to choose from.
    And, oh—I am sorry, we were never a colony. Liberia is and always was the land of the Freed. The only problem that still persists—there were already free people in the land before it was taken over by the Freed. May be we should change our flag too. After all, it resembles the Flag of the USA.

    So, fellow Liberians, what’s it gonna be–the continued/total sell out started by his predecessors or…?

  12. Many contructiv argumentes on this forum. I dont understand why this issue of foregners(non negros) becoming citizens found its way to the forefront of president Weahs priorities at this early stages of his presidency. Dont know who his advisors are but at this point in time it is fair to say – He must be ill adviced.
    Soverinty for economic gains has never succeded in any country,but confusion. The argument that ”White citizenship brings economic developemnt in a country like ours is far a fetched idea. It is us Liberians that need to change our mentality to briing growth and development to Liberia. You remember the economic booming years of the past when GDP was 20 times what it is today with multinational companies like Lamco, Bong Mines, LMC with revenues of millions if not billions coming into government coffers during the 70s and 80s, what did our leaders do with these huge revenues. Stolen and taking away to the white mans country
    Do anyone honestly belive if the Germans in Bog Mines, the Swedes in Lamco or Ameicans i Firestone were Liberian citizens, economic and infrastructural development could have come to Liberia?
    The presidents example about Ghana was also interesting. Ghana has achieve economic growth and infrstructura development because Ghanians have taking resposibility for their own destiny. I dont know if the president is aware that land ownership in Ghana is a contested issue. You may recall the clashes between Chinese landowners and villagers and town chief in Ghana. Why should Chinese businessmen be carrying automatic weapons to frighten villagers. Do you think our poor villagers will accept that?
    My advice to president Weah is to suspend all issues relating to amendments to the constitution as regards this matter. If however he decides to press this foward i hope the legislature can put this up for a nattional referandum for the liberian people. This is what the British people has done to restrict foreigners coming into Britain when they voted to leave the EU. For those of us following the media, you may aware that immigration to the west is a burning issue since the election of Donald Trump. Western countries are closing their borders,Libyens selling West africans as slaves for 300 dollars
    I have live in the white mans country for over 25 years, i have been tolerated but never accepted as equals regardless of education,professionality and performence. Dont get me wrong, I dont hold that against the white man because it is just part of his or her DNA. The war in Lib was devestating, but it also created a positive effect by sending thousands of Liberians abroad who are capable of rebuilding the nation if the govt is willing to tap into this knowledge resevoir. WE have liberian Engineers working at multinational companies like BMW and Volkswagen in Germany,Electrical, Building contruction engineers in Sweden and Norway, oil engineers etc
    Architects constructing sky scapers in London medical doctors and surgens at Emory(ebola hospital) hospital in Atlanta USA, Well traind technicians in all areas of development. Millioner Liberian busness and sports personalities
    Bringing these liberians home is a challenge. But this should be what the Weah govt should be focusd on, engage these Liberians who want to do somthing for their country. Contact people like NFL Tamba Hali. who have express his interest help rebuild. You just need to engage people like these and open up incentives. This is what Ellen faild to do. Whenever she came at this end she preach come home, come home. but did nothing. so this should be the agenda- NOt a citzenship debate at this point in time.
    Im not against poor indians and pakistanis or syrians and lebenese refugess becoming rich in liberia. Its an issue of getting liberians to take control of their own economy.

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